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Advanced Condenser Systems: Abbe Condensers

Spirogyra Vegetative Filaments

The images below compare performance of the Intel Play QX3 Computer Microscope with and without the aid of an organized cone of illumination from a substage condenser containing an aperture diaphragm. These photomicrographs are high magnifications of a spirogyra mixture. The digital images are unretouched and were captured with the QX3 interactive software.

Spirogyra is a filamentous algae that can be found in almost every pond or ditch, often forming a thick scum on the surface of the water. In spite of its slimy exterior, at the microscopic level Spirogyra is a thing of beauty. Through the length of its elegant tube-shaped cells, two spiral chains of emerald chloroplasts intertwine in a gentle helix.

Spirogyra Vegetative Filaments
QX3 with mixing chamber (stock - 200x magnification)

QX3 with simple two-lens Abbe condenser
(200x magnification)

Semi-transparent and lightly stained specimens are often very difficult to image using unaided brightfield optical microscopy. The images presented here were recorded using the Intel Play QX3 microscope in transmitted brightfield mode. On the top is a digital image from a stock QX3 microscope using either auxiliary illumination provided by a fiber optic light pipe through a hole drilled into the mixing chamber, or standard illumination from the microscope's tungsten lamp and mixing chamber. The image on the bottom was recorded using the QX3 microscope body coupled to a simple two-lens Abbe low numerical aperture substage condenser. Illumination was provided by a 30 watt tungsten bulb housed in an illuminator with a heat sink, a frosted diffusion screen, and a daylight color-compensating filter.

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